I don't know about you, but I have been conditioned to think of chocolate and red roses when February 14th - the day of the heart(s) -draws near. Good or bad, that is the where my little psyche goes. It doesn't mean that I feel better or worse if I have these things or not, but I'm just saying that those are what come to mind around this celebrated 'heart' day.
But today I am thinking about actually celebrating the heart in a literal sense. Did you know that this magnificent organ is the first one to be created in the womb and continues as the most important influencing mechanism in the body throughout our lifetime until its last heartbeat?
Existence is possible without a brain, but absolutely impossible without a heart. In addition to its physical responsibilities (like beating), it is also a channel for receiving and translating the myriad of feelings and emotions that make up a lifetime. It is the portal to our being, where emotions are felt and expressed and where, I believe, love comes through from a higher place than what this little human mind can even fathom.
One thing I do know for certain is when I am in touch with my heart and allow it to be open and peaceful, then no one or anything can do me harm. The world is seen from a different perspective and it takes me past all that is scary and disturbing - take your pick from the news: the crashing stock market, the bizarre weather patterns and all the other 'things' and people that usually set me off.
Instead I find fascination with the little things in my life - the little winter hummingbird who shows up faithfully every day for his numerous drinks from our feeder. Visiting with my friend's little dog and seeing him gobble down the butter chicken pieces that I saved for him from our lunch out at the Indian Buffet! Or, working at the local hospice and being there to comfort people as they struggle with saying good-bye to their beloved. All of these things take me to my heart and at least momentarily, I can say that I am living from my heart.
Again, back to a loving, peaceful heart! Where this blog originated from was thinking of celebrating Valentine's Day with a bit of chocolate. And honestly, do we really need to wait until February 14th to open our hearts and express appreciation for our friends, our special ones, our family members?
And, what better way to express from the heart than by sharing chocolate!! Aha I have finally managed to bring this back to food - and baking. I want to share with you a most recent recipe I have tried, for a chocolate chia cake. Chia seeds are one of my favorite sources of fiber, omega-3 fats and protein, as well as containing vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium. They boast a myriad of health benefits, too numerous for me to list right now (only cause I'm anxious to get to the recipe).
Suffice it to say chia seeds are extremely beneficial in our diet; one of their several claims to fame is their ability to support healthy digestion. When these seeds are soaked in liquid, they become gelatin-like in form. Once they hit the stomach, that substance forms a prebiotic that in turn supports probiotic growth in the gut.
So, here's a recipe, compliments of Tania Hubbard, from whose blog I adapted it from. As per normal, I made a few wee changes, but not too many!
4 tablespoons chia seeds (soaked in 1 cup of water for 15 minutes)
1 cup almond flour
3/4 cup of organic cane sugar
1/2 cup cocoa (raw or dutch processed)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup of olive oil (you could also use coconut oil)
4 medium eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 180C (350 F). Line a spring form cake tin (I used a loaf pan) with parchment baking paper.
Soak the chia seeds in 1 cup of water for 15 minutes, stirring regularly. Meanwhile, add cocoa, eggs, almond flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and olive oil in a bowl and
whisk to combine well and break up any lumps.
Add chia seeds after sitting for 15 minutes, whisk until well combined. Pour into lined cake tin/loaf pan. Bake in oven for 45-50 minutes - I originally set the timer for 35 minutes but it took almost an hour as it was quite moist.